Mercyhurst expecting to reach university status by fall 2011

The college administration has been working hard to gain university status for Mercyhurst College.

Monsignor David Rubino, Director of Administration, said, “We already function like a university. We now want to formalize that.”

Along with Rubino, Director of Assessment Amy Danzer and several other staff members have compiled a “data dump” document of approximately 600 to 700 pages filled with course catalogs, budgets, faculty resumes, policy manuals and other institutional data.

“It includes everything from the number of students to the number of square feet,” Rubino said.

Part of this document will be released on the Mercyhurst Portal within a few weeks.

The administration hopes to present the data to the Board of Trustees on Thursday, Oct. 28. The community will be able to examine the document.

The data would then be delivered to Harrisburg in December, at which point the process will be out of the administration’s hands.

After the data is delivered, a review team will visit the campus sometime this winter, and if Mercyhurst receives a clean report, Harrisburg will post the university status request on the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

At that point, anyone can object to the university status change, although few people have ever exercised that right. From there, the governor would confirm the university status.

“I’m firmly convinced that we can have this done by May,” Rubino said.

While Mercyhurst cannot control when the review team arrives, the college anticipates a celebration of the name change next fall.

“I thought they’d get it done by this school year,” sophomore Giulia Parli said.

Sophomore Elizabeth Lerch reacted with enthusiasm.

“Writing that we graduated from the University of Mercyhurst will look better on a resume,” she said.

Once the administration submits the application for the university status change, Mercyhurst only has to prepare for the review team’s visit, at which point the college would make available staff, faculty and students for questions.

“It’s a very open process,” Rubino said.

He said he sees no reason that Mercyhurst would not attain university status.

“The most important thing for the community is the rationale for doing this,” Rubino said.

The main purpose for the change is clarification of operations. The university status would help clarify and organize relationships between the different campuses, as well as graduate and undergraduate studies. The change would also improve the international reputation of the Mercyhurst community.

Even so, the change will not affect daily student interaction.

“A sense of depersonalization is never going to happen here,” Rubino said.

He said that creating an impersonal learning environment would work against the mission of the Sisters of Mercy.

“The same warmth will still exist,” Rubino said.

The biggest remaining concern, according to Rubino, is that the marketing and public relations department will “go crazy” figuring out how to change signs, letterheads, athletic uniforms and everywhere else the Mercyhurst name is found.